ATM vandalism: too many questions and not enough answers?

ATM vandalism appears to be on the rise. What steps does our industry need to take to safeguard the investment of the hardware while still providing a necessary and convenient service to our customers?

Rhode Island. Missouri. Minnesota. Illinois. Pennsylvania. New York. Kentucky. Texas. Throughout the country reports of theft and vandalism to ATM machines have been piling up.

Over this past weekend, suspects damaged ATMs with explosives in Chicago and in Philadelphia. In another report from Illinois suspects used a blowtorch. In Maryland, a suspect was apprehended trying to cut through an ATM with an angle grinder. Fortunately, in most cases, no one was hurt, but unfortunately, suspects were often not apprehended and the machines were damaged beyond repair.

At first it appeared these attacks on the cash machines may have been fueled by the violence occurring in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an African American man who was murdered by a white police officer in Minnesota on May 25. Now, approximately three weeks later, reports are still coming in across the country that ATMs have been the target for vandalism and theft. Fleet owners, operators and maintenance teams as well as bank staff are left wondering if these were isolated incidents or a trend that is growing?

Is the vandalism happening due to racial tension in the area or is it simply that thieves and vandals are getting bolder, more creative and taking bigger risks? Considering the use of explosives, blow torches and heavy maintenance equipment, what should our industry do or change to keep the machines protected but accessible? Even putting the machines behind glass was not a deterrent to vandals in the Philadelphia area a few weeks ago. A crowd of teenagers rushed the doors of a bank, shattering the glass and giving them access to the ATM. There have even been reports of chains being placed on the ATMs and trucks attempting to pull the machines off the bank lot.

What needs to be done? Do we have to encase machines in impenetrable materials like bank vaults to keep them accessible? Do we need 24-hour guards on duty to protect this hardware? Should more CCTV cameras with better lenses be installed to catch thieves and vandals in the act, or do we just continue to wait until the next explosion to consider what to do?

Our industry has provided convenient access to customers wanting to obtain cash at any hour, and now our focus is how to keep customers and staff healthy when utilizing the machines. Do we now have to add additional safeguards to protect the machine as well as the customer?

I am interested to hear your thoughts. What are the products you are considering? What are the steps you are taking in light of recent events? What does the future look like to you?

Hopefully in the weeks to come we will have many more answers than we do questions.

Source: ATM Marketplace